From the Thoroughbred Daily News, October 20, 2019
EMPIRE CLASSIC H., $306,450, Belmont, 10-19, (S), 3 yo/up, 1 1/8m, 1:48.65, ft.
Third to Pat On the Back in this race last year, Mr. Buff got his revenge on the GII Kelso H. victor and race favorite Saturday. Mr. Buff broke so sharply that he stumbled a step leaving the gate, but quickly recovered and moved up to challenge Not That Brady (Big Brown). Seizing control as the half went in :47.38, the chestnut glided into the lane on a clear lead and held off a late running Dynamax Prime to register his fifth stakes victory.
“I knew we had horse turning for home and I wanted them to get on their outside lead, trainer John Kimmel said. “I’m going, change your lead, change your lead. He never changed his lead. Junior [Alvarado] said he didn’t want to take his forward momentum away by trying to make him change. He said he had plenty of horse in there, so he stayed on that left lead from the half-mile pole to the wire.” The conditioner added, “He’s as good a New York-bred as there is. I think this horse is going to have a chance to do something bigger against open [company] down the road. He didn’t have a very good trip in the Woodward. He’s a gelding. He’s going to be around for a long time for us to enjoy.”
A dominant winner over Dynamax Prime in this venue’s Saginaw S. June 30, Mr. Buff followed suit with another decisive score over that rival in the Evan Shipman S. at Saratoga Aug. 7. Testing much deeper waters in the GI Woodward S. at the Spa Aug. 31, the Empire-bred faded to seventh after setting the early pace. The winner’s dam is also responsible for the 3-year-old Daddy Knows (Scat Daddy), who broke his maiden during the Saratoga meet; and a yearling filly named Miss Buff (Friend Or Foe).